Thursday, 11 June 2015

Mummy Time: Emma Cardwell

To regular Mummy Time readers, which I'm so touched to hear that there are a few of you, I'm sorry that it was M.I.A last week but hopefully this week's post will make up for it - I absolutely love Emma's vibe (I was hesistant to use that word as I feel like there's probably a more appropriate word out there to describe the way I feel that I can't think of right now, but she admits to being a bit of a hippie so I'm going to leave it in!)
Emma is pretty darn inspiring; she finished her PhD just as she was due to give birth, cooks everything from scratch, has more than just a keen interest in sustainability and has just started a blog about economical and environmentally friendly parenting, (which I have visions of doing incredibly well, particularly on Pinterest; I said it here first!).
Without any further ado, and poorly constructed sentences, here's Emma and seven month old Eily...  

Mummy:

Who are you?

Hi, I’m Emma and I live on some wild, blustery moors, just above the town of Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire. I live with my boyfriend Rob and our little baby Eily Cate (it’s pronounced eye-lee - everyone asks) in an old, leaky stone cottage with a big fire and lovely views. Eily was born on 30th October 2014. My due date was Halloween, which I was really excited about, as it’s the perfect day for fancy dress parties. I think the 30th is close enough though so I’m already planning a day of the dead themed 1st birthday.


What do you do for a living?
I’m a researcher and writer. I study environmental issues and write about them – my big interest is sustainability and social justice in food production. In fact, I just finished a PhD in this, so am getting used to calling myself Dr, which is amazing. I handed in my PhD thesis the day I hit full term with Eily, which was pretty good timing! I wrote my thesis on social justice in fishing (you can read about it here) and I’m currently trying to get some funding to do a similar study of dairy farms. I’m a bit of a hippy, and have always wanted to do something quite radical and meaningful with my working day so I’m very passionate about what I do. I just started volunteering with a local food activism group during my maternity leave.

How long did you take for maternity leave & how did you decide how long you'd take? 
When I got pregnant I was working on a temporary contract (researching ocean nature reserves), which finished when I started my maternity leave – so when my maternity pay stops (next week, eek!)  I don’t have a job to go back to. I had a fantastic job lined up in London but decided to turn it down, as moving from a rural idyll to one of the biggest and most expensive cities in the world to work full time didn’t seem practical with a small baby – the nursery and rent alone would have eaten up my whole salary. It was a big decision, as I do want to go back to work. I am currently trying to get funding for research starting in 2016. Luckily research is quite flexible when it comes to childcare, as I have some freedom to work from home, so we can hopefully juggle childcare between family and a few days in nursery.

How do you get things done?
The short answer is that currently, being a mum is definitely my top priority and full time job, which means I don’t have to get too many other things done! I have had little bits of work to do, some ongoing articles and a contribution to a book, and my co-authors and editors have had to be quite patient with me. When Eily was first born I relied on family support to let me work: her dad would take her on a long walk to give me a quiet few hours, or a grandma would babysit. Now she’s a bit older I try to write when she’s sleeping – which is what I’m doing now. I definitely neglect housework! Pots regularly sit in the sink overnight, and I pretty much always really need to hoover. My ancient stone cottage full of second-hand furniture and half-finished jobs is very different from some of the sleek white interiors on Instagram, although with my charity shop habit and 70s home-woven-rainbow-mushroom taste it would be even if I didn’t have a baby,

How are you?
I’m good! I try not to beat myself up about the lax housekeeping, and Eily sleeps well, which I think is the key to our sanity. I have so, so much respect for parents who manage bad nights. Life is much harder when you’re tired. I’m also incredibly lucky that my partner is hands on and works from home, so I don’t have lonely days. He has to go away on work trips occasionally, and when he does I go to stay with my parents – it’s perfect as I get company and they like the time with Eily. I’m enjoying motherhood. Having a job lined up for the future would definitely give me peace of mind, but apart from that things are great. Support is so important; it really does take a village to raise a child.

How do you relax?
Chat, laugh and drink wine or beer with my boyfriend, take long family walks on the moors, and look at Instagram! It’s the only social media I use (I have a Twitter but it’s just for work). I love how positive it is. My boyfriend and I just got (matching!) fell running shoes, so next time we get a babysitter we’re going to go on a wild run together. We quite like a trip into Manchester for a date-with-baby: record shopping and food – Ethiopian is our current favourite.

What do you do when you have time to yourself?
Clean! Getting my kitchen fully clean without interruption is so satisfying. I also love a good book and a mooch round a charity or vintage shop, and I can get lost in an ebay vintage vortex very easily. I like making foody things – I’ve got some home-brewed ginger beer on the go currently, and red sauerkraut. I like sewing too – I recently made a Kurt Cobain rag doll for a friend’s baby, and I’ve just bought a children’s clothing pattern cutting book to make Eily up some little dresses. I avoid the news and instead read blogs (including this one!). I especially like sustainability, natural parenting and eco living ones (if anyone has any recommendations?) – in fact, I just started my own eco baby blog at www.thriftygreenbaby.com. I tend to write the posts while I’m feeding, which works quite well. You can follow us on Instagram at @thriftygreenbaby!

How does a typical day go?
We all wake up at around 8am. Either Rob or I will make hot drinks (coffee for him, tea for me) and we’ll drink them in bed playing with Eily. Often we have a light breakfast in bed. Rob then goes to his office downstairs to start his day. I’ll feed Eily in bed and she’ll have a morning nap on me. She’ll only nap on me at the moment, which was driving me crazy until I decided to just accept it and use that time constructively (by starting Thrifty Green Baby!). When she wakes up I’ll dress her, and then she plays on the bathroom floor while I have a shower, and in her crib while I get dressed. I’d probably play with her or do some housework or errands after that. She plays on the floor in the living room while I make lunch, and the three of us eat together at the table. Eily has just started solids so mealtimes are really fun (and messy!). After lunch Rob goes back to his office to work and I’ll either do laundry or errands. I’m breastfeeding, and some days it seems like all I do is nurse. At around 5pm, weather permitting, we strap Eily in the Ergobaby carrier and go for a family walk on the moors, or have a potter on the veg beds in the garden. After that Rob goes back to finish off work in his office and I start cooking dinner – we cook everything from scratch so it’s often a pretty long process. Eily either plays on the floor or sits in her high chair ‘helping me’. At about 7.30pm I’ll take her up to bed and Rob takes over as chef. If she’s sleeping well Rob and I eat and relax downstairs, or maybe both get a bit more work done (freelance life!). If not he brings dinner up and we have a bed picnic and relax with a film or TV show.

Pregnancy:
How was your pregnancy?
Physically I was super lucky, I loved being pregnant. I was dog-tired in the first trimester, and had really bad heartburn for the last few weeks, but otherwise it was great.

Did you have any cravings?
Haribo and strawberries. I wouldn’t normally eat Haribo at all. Weirdly I ended up having Eily in Pontefract where the Haribo factory is. I pretended I had a craving for ice cream, but in reality I just really like ice cream and wanted an excuse to eat it a lot.

Did you find out what you were having?
Yes! I can’t read a book without skipping to the end to check no one dies.

How did your prepare for your baby’s arrival?
I moved across the country pretty late in pregnancy, so missed out on all the NCT stuff. I did a prenatal yoga class, and a birth prep class for my boyfriend and I, at Blessingway in Hebden Bridge, and it was amazing. My friend Clarissa leant me a copy of Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, which had a profound effect on me. I also bought a Himalayan salt lamp so we didn’t have to turn the light on for night feeds, which was very useful. It’s a soft, warm light so we could sleep with it on but still see the baby when she woke up.

How was your labour?
I had Eily at Pontefract Midwife Led Unit and I couldn’t recommend it more highly, it was lovely – like going to a spa hotel to give birth! They described it as “a home birth, but you don’t have to clean up afterwards”. The midwives were very supportive but also quite hands off, so my partner and I got to feel like we were really taking the lead. My labour was very long – about 36 hours – and I feel like in a labour ward there would probably have been an intervention. My cervix was taking a very long time to dilate.
Rob read me one of the stories from Ina May (I made him read it aloud to me during labour while I was in the bath), and when the woman in it was having a long labour, Ina May said it was because she was scared and holding back the baby. I realised that was what I was doing, and put a lot of energy into willing my birth and welcoming it positively, and after that things moved quite quickly. I gave birth to Eily in the pool with Rob’s arms around me – it was really special.  I had gas and air and some opiate – meptid? – which was amazing, it just made me feel really calm and positive, not drugged at all.
I had a retained placenta and had to go in an ambulance to the labour ward afterwards, but didn’t care by then as the baby was born! It was a lot scarier for Rob as there was lots of blood in the ambulance, and he was left alone with this tiny, fragile baby while I was in surgery. They put me to sleep when they detached the placenta so I didn’t feel anything.
 

Baby:
How did you get on with breastfeeding?
Eily latched straight away when she was born, but had a little trouble when my milk came in. The Calderdale midwives diagnosed a tongue-tie straight away and by the next day she’d had it snipped – it was a really efficient service. My breasts were really engorged and (against advice) I used a nipple shield for a few days. It worked for us and when my supply calmed down she fed fine.

What was your approach to weaning Eily onto solids?
Eily loves solids. We started at 24 weeks and just give her a bit of what we’re eating. She’s quite adventurous, and tends to like everything. I even give her a taste of curry if we’re eating it! Thefirst food she tried was banana, then avocado and scrambled egg yolk. We do a bit of baby-led, though Eily actually likes a puree – she insists on holding the spoon and putting it in her own mouth though.

How do you keep Eily entertained?
She loves being sung too, and playing guitar – putting her hands on the frets when her daddy plays guitar. She has a mobile she really likes – its just a simple one with stuffed cotton figures hanging on ribbon from a wood frame, and we hung it so she can grab the figures as they circle above her head. That keeps her entertained for ages. She has a Jumperoo, which she liked for a while, but now she prefers rolling around on the floor with her nappy off.

What helps to calm Eily down?
She doesn’t really freak out now, but in the early days we found pressing our lips against her head and humming a constant drone always stopped her crying. It was sorcery.
 

Holiday:
Have you taken Eily on any holidays?
We went on a city break to Tallinn for my boyfriend’s birthday. I was nervous about the flight but she was really good. A good friend advised us that the best way to do city breaks with a baby was to treat lunch time like dinner time, which we did: explore in the morning, eat out at lunch, walk round a gallery or park in the afternoon while she napped in the Ergo, then hung out in the Airbnb apartment in the evening with a picknicky tea. It worked a charm.

What were your baby holiday essentials?
The Ergobaby carrier, definitely. A travel changing mat as there didn’t seem to be baby changing anywhere, so I quite often had to change her on toilet floors (!) and a toy to keep her entertained. Sophie Giraffe is great for this as she’s so easily replaceable if you lose her when out and about.

Was Eily’s routine affected by being on holiday?
Estonia is two hours ahead, so we just pretended we were still on UK time – up at 10, bed at 10 etc! It messed with her schedule a bit when we got back but she was back to normal after about a week.


Paraphernalia:
Does Eily have a favourite toy?
She likes Sophie Giraffe and her mobile. That mobile is my favourite thing in the world, as I can plonk her under it to play if she wakes up and I want to carry on sleeping. She also has a crocheted lion called Felioni with long gangly limbs that her step-granny made who she loves.

What was your most recent baby-related purchase?
I bought some reusable nappies on ebay (little lamb and tots bots). I was using some hand me downs from a friend and wanted more. I put cloth nappies off for ages as I felt like I can hardly stay on top of regular laundry, but I really like them. I use reusable baby wipes too and I’m really happy with it all.

What has been the most useful thing you've bought?
So many things… our Ergobaby carrier is amazing. There aren’t really pavements where we live so we’d be so limited with a pram. I have a wrap too but the Ergo is so comfy, I can hike for hours and not get a bad back. I hate using a pram; I hate getting it in and out of the car, I hate how bulky it is, and I just find it a total drag.

What are your absolute essentials when you go out?
Ergo, change of nappy, toy (Sophie Giraffe, Mildred the Mermaid or her woolly beetroot!). Our friend gave us a duck-under-cover waterproof blanket that goes over the sling in case of rain, which is really useful.

Where are your favourite places to shop for baby clothes?
I love the Little Bird range at Mothercare, and I like Zara baby and John Lewis. I get most of her stuff second hand from Ebay.

Advice:
If you could give your pregnant self some advice, what would it be?
That the first stage of labour isn’t necessarily the easy part. I really lost my confidence half way through my labour. I thought I couldn’t do it – how will I deal with the delivery if I struggle with the contractions, which are supposed to be the easy part? For me the pushing was so much easier than waiting for my cervix to dilate.


What's the best tip anyone's given you about parenting?
My friend Naomi said that the first few months are the fourth trimester, and if the baby wants to be held, hold the baby. Don’t stress that you’re making a rod for your own back or go against your instinct.

Do you have any tips you’d like to share with other mums or expectant mums?
Read Ina May Gaskin, get as much support as you can – try to make your partner take as much holiday from work as possible! And that newborn dreadnaught period is such a short time – it’s so hard but it’s over in a snap.

I hope you enjoyed this week's post. Thank you so very much for sharing, Emma.

Find Emma on Instagram: @emmajaynecardwell / @thriftygreenbaby
Emma's blog: www.thriftygreenbaby.com

If you'd like to feature on Mummy Time, drop me a line onthechangingmat@gmail.com
SHARE:

No comments

Post a Comment

Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to leave a comment. It really means a lot! Nicki x

BLOGGER TEMPLATE MADE BY pipdig